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Q: When will I receive my first benefit check?

A: You will receive your first pension benefit check, which will be retroactive to the date of your retirement, within two to three months. Your first payment will be direct deposited into your bank account.


Q: How can I change my direct deposit information?

A: If you would like to make changes to your direct deposit information or set up a new direct deposit, please complete and return ERSRI's Direct Deposit form. Please note that changes typically take one full month (from the date we receive your signed form) to take effect. 


Q: What is a COLA?

A: A COLA is a cost of living adjustment. Not all employers offer a COLA. On Nov. 18, 2011, the Rhode Island General Assembly enacted into law the Rhode Island Retirement Security Act of 2011 (RIRSA). RIRSA suspends the COLA for all state employees, teachers, judges, BHDDH nurses and correctional officers until the plans' funding level for all groups, calculated in the aggregate, exceeds 80 percent. For MERS, COLAs are suspended until the funding level of the individual plan exceeds 80 percent -- MERS plans are not aggregated.

For members with a suspended COLA, an interim COLA will be calculated and awarded every four years during the suspension period.

Per Rhode Island law, the Annual COLA is calculated based on equal parts of 50% of investment performance minus 5.50%, and 50% of inflation.

Q: Why is the amount of my pension check different?

A: Your benefit amount may be different if you have received a COLA, had a change in your healthcare or other deductions, or if the federal or state tax withholding tables have changed. You may change the amount of tax withheld from your check at any time by completing a Certificate of Withholding Tax Change, and mailing or faxing it to ERSRI. You may also make tax changes online by logging into your personal retirement account at www.ersri.org. Unfortunately, ERSRI staff cannot provide any tax advice to retirees; if you have questions about the amount of tax that should be withheld from your check, please consult your tax preparer or financial advisor.


Q: Can I work after I retire?

A: Yes, but post-retirement employment with the state of Rhode Island, Rhode Island public schools or any Rhode Island municipality participating in MERS is subject to restriction in accordance with Rhode Island General Laws.


Generally, employment may begin no earlier than 45 calendar days after an employee retirees, and a retiree cannot go back to work for the state of Rhode Island without suspension of his or her pension benefit.


The following rules also apply to post-retirement employment:


  • ERSRI or MERS retirees may work for a participating municipality for no more than 75 working days or 150 half-days in a calendar year.
  • ERSRI or MERS retirees may substitute teach for a period of not more than 90 days or 180 half-days in any one school year (A school year is generally Sept. 1 through Aug. 31, but may vary by department).
  • Retirees may be hired to fill a vacant teaching position, including coaching or tutoring, for not more than 90 days if the school department certifies, in writing, that it has made a “good faith” effort to fill the position with a non-retired person.
  • ERSRI or MERS retirees may be employed by a state college, university or state school for the purpose of providing classroom instruction, academic advising of students and/or coaching. Gross wages may not exceed $15,000 in any one calendar year.
  • Retired registered nurses may be employed on a per-diem basis to providing nursing care/service at a state facility. Gross wages may not exceed $15,000 in any one calendar year.


No additional contributions will be taken and no additional service credits will be granted for post-retirement employment.


Employers are legally obligated to send notice of employment monthly to ERSRI. This notice must be signed by both the employer and the retired employee. The post-retirement employment notification form can be found here.


Q: Once I retire, can I change my option?

A: If you selected Option 1 or Option 2, you may change your option one time, as long as you and your beneficiary have not divorced; however, you may not change to SRA Plus. If you selected the Service Retirement Allowance (SRA) plan, you may not change your retirement option after the date on which you retire.

Under RIRSA, retirees who initially chose Option One or Option Two and have already made a one-time option change will be allowed to make another option change to the SRA Plan one time prior to June 30, 2013, provided the beneficiary is still alive.


Q: Can I change my pension beneficiary?

A: You may change your beneficiary at any time by completing a Beneficiary Nomination Form, and mailing or faxing it to ERSRI.


Q: How do I notify ERSRI when I change my address or phone number?

A: Whenever you change your address, telephone number or email address, you should fill out a Change of Information form, and mail or fax it to ERSRI.


Q: Am I eligible for health insurance?

A: ERSRI does not handle healthcare coverage matters for retirees. Please contact the Office of Employee Benefits  at (401) 574-8530 with questions or concerns about your healthcare coverage eligibility.


Q: When will I get my 1099 form?

A: ERSRI is required by law to issue a 1099 form for each retiree by Jan. 31. You should receive your form via mail within the weeks following Jan. 31. If for some reason you do not receive your form by mid-February, call (401) 462-7600 and we will issue a replacement 1099.

Q: Will my survivors receive a death benefit?

A: Your designated beneficiary is eligible to receive a one-time death benefit payment regardless of retirement option selected. The Benefit is $800 per year of completed service, up to a maximum benefit of $16,000 with 20 years of service. Benefit reduces 25% each year of retirement to a minimum death benefit of $4,000.

Q: What is the Teachers Survivors' Benefit Plan?

A: The Teachers Survivors' Benefit (TSB) Plan  was created in response to teachers' requests for a plan to leave benefits to their survivors.  Teachers, in participating school districts, contribute to a fund, in lieu of Social Security, to provide benefits for their survivors in the event of their death.  To learn more about how the TSB Plan works, please see Teachers Survivors' Benefits Information.